Every procedural needs something the audience can latch onto immediately. NCIS has a plethora of kooky characters (namely Abby), Law & Order: SVU has the morbid sex crimes, The Mentalist has a protagonist who solves cases with mind games, Criminal Minds has criminal profilers, and Castle has the core sexual tension between the protagonists (and Nathan Fillion’s special charms).
Motive didn’t really have anything nearly as captivating as the aforementioned series.
I understand that Motive is going for something that has a “new spin”: we see the crime, know the criminal, and build our way to the motive, which closes the episode. ABC is certainly billing this as a fresh spin to the audience… but is it really that original? I don’t think so.
Watching Motive was like watching a flat and generic version of Without A Trace, except the missing person element is substituted for good old-fashioned murder. Without A Trace, however, had cast of colorful and exciting characters, much like NCIS. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really go out of my way to watch NCIS, but sometimes those USA marathons get me because Abby rocks my world. Anyway, the point is: I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen basically the same cinematography, I’ve heard the same soundtrack, I’ve met the same characters, and I’ve heard the same dialogue again and again.
No single character was given enough screen time to be remotely appreciated by the audience, especially the female protagonist—whom I can only think was meant to be “edgy”. Angie, the mother of a lazy misfit of a son, seemed to be characterized by her “alternative motherhood” and strange ability to pull necessary information out of thin air. Seriously, she never once made a bad call throughout the entire pilot, and had no motivation for the calls she did make (i.e. “I bet the killer is still here,” rather than “Maybe the wife is the killer, because there’s no sign of the killer’s exit” despite there being no evidence for the former.) This makes her a generic lead in a generic show that has a small and unoriginal twist.
The saving grace of the whole pilot was the maybe seven lines that were spoken by the Medical Examiner, Dr. Betty. She may very well be the breakaway character that keeps the audience coming back for more, but she’ll need some work. Oh, and I did like the small bit about the dog.
So, I won’t recommend Motive because it didn’t really motivate me to come back for more.